Harrington's eco pork shoulder with Kingsmeade Opaki manchego cheese, Rutherford & Meyer quince and celeriac remoulade on a Bordeaux Bakery bun, with gaufrette chippies - $25
We were quite excited about visiting Gusto for a burger, particularly as it was based in Petone, in the good old Hutt Valley. Nothing like supporting the home team - and all three of us lived in the Hutt (some longer than others).
Another reason for excitement was that Gusto was a burger finalist in 2011, with a superb morrocan lamb number that my better half claimed was the best burger she had ever tasted!!
So Gav, Tony and I turned up with some pretty high expectations (Tony and Gav seeking something special after Trade Kitchen on Friday, and me as I knew what these guys were capable of!!).
Sticking to script, Gusto continued to stay away from beef, opting this year for a pork burger. Veering even further away, it wasn't in the form of a pattie, but a shoulder chop!!
Now we are already thinking 'after Jason completely lambasted the Arizona steak in a bun burger, what is he going to do to this one?'
And I must admit, when it arrived and I saw a pork chop, my initial thinking was 'I nailed Arizona for giving me a piece of steak in a bun. I'm going to have to be consistent here...'
Otherwise, the presentation was stellar. The fillings were stacked high and looked fresh as!! Salad/slaw, pork chop, cheese, tomato, cornichons? and a piece of crackling. Some neat looking potato chips, and a squiggle of sauce (was that the rutherford and mayer quince sauce? I don't know. There was also a sauce that could have been quince under the cornichons. It actually tasted like gravy...).
Tony didn't get his piece of crackling, but rather than offering him some of ours, we cornered the waitress and told her that Tony hadn't got crackling. A piece arrived on a plate pronto. To be honest, it probably wasn't worth the effort. On our part OR on their part. Perhaps if it was freshly made it would have been superb (I LOVE crackling). However, it tasted pre-prepared and wasn't crackly. In fact it was slightly chewy and tasted old. Unfortunate.
The other thing of note was the top bun seemed rather well toasted. Perhaps a bit too much, and I acknowledge that mine was toastier than the others. This gave me a pretty hard bun, which doesn't really work with a burger...but then we all know that. Cutting the burger in half, the top bun, as expected, started cracking up (It almost as if the crackling and the top bun were swapped).
Again, however, it is best to reserve judgement until you taste the burger. And here is where we were pleasantly surprised. The pork was actually extremely tender, not unlike a pattie of sorts, albeit with a completely different texture. I didn't mind it at all. In fact, I admit I actually liked it. And so did Gav and Tony (who didn't use his cutlery at all, expertly picking up the burger whole).
The slaw was excellent, with a solid creamy dressing. The creaminess was offset by the cornichons, which added the tang, along with some crunch. The burger was moist, seriously so, dripping all over the plate. But that was fine. Just wished I had more of an absorbant bun to soak up those juices.
Gav (jokingly?) noted that there was no beetroot in the burger. Hmmm. Maybe he has something there as there did appear to be something missing. I thought it was ketchup. It was missing a bit of sweet, which would have supported the saltiness of the pork.
Also missing was the Manchego Cheese. A bit more of this would have been useful as I scooped a bit out and ate it and it was quite yum!!
You also had to love the Gaufrette chippies, which were a welcome diversion from fries. I would have liked a few more...
While sounding a bit critical here, it was actually quite an impressive burger. Gusto did a great job on the lamb shoulder, which worked perfectly. It was almost a version of a pulled pork sammie, but without the pulling and with some burger flavours. It was all about sorting a great piece of meat.
So looking at giving it a score, we all agreed that 7/10 would be an appropriate measure of the burger. We liked it. We appreciated it. We just thought it could have been better than what it was. You are always harder on your own.
The service at Gusto was impeccable. Wait staff were attentive and personal. We really appreciated the ambiance and felt like we were being treated. Great work Gusto. We will be back for the big breakfast, which looked awesome!!
And I just worked out the name of the burger. Read it backwards...